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What is Quinoa

Jan 7, 2013

First off it is pronounced “keen-wah,” Quinoa is usually considered to be a whole grain but Quinoa is actually a seed. Quinoa can be prepared like whole grains such as rice or barley. It can be traced back to ancient Peru. Quinoa was a staple food for thousands of years in the Andes region of South America as one of just a few crops the ancient Incas cultivated at such high altitude.

Of all the whole grains, quinoa has the highest protein content, so it's perfect for vegetarians and vegans. Quinoa provides all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. It is also particularly rich in lysine, which promotes healthy tissue growth throughout the body. Quinoa is also a good source of iron, magnesium, vitamin E, potassium, and fiber.

How does it taste?

Quinoa looks a bit like couscous and is as versatile as rice, but it has a richer, nuttier flavor than either of them. Quinoa is gluten-free and cholesterol-free, the seeds have a naturally bitter coating to deter birds that must be soaked off before preparing. Packaged quinoa has likely been pre-soaked, but be sure to read the fine print before cooking.

How do you cook quinoa?

First, it takes less time to cook than other whole grains – just 10 to 15 minutes

1. Soak 1 cup quinoa in 2 cups water for 5-10 minutes (to dissolve any remaining bitter coating)

2. Drain and rinse.

3. Pour into a pot and add 1.5 cups of water and a half teaspoon of salt.

4. Boil, then cover with a tight-fitting lid.

5. Simmer for 15 minutes.

6. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes, covered.

7. Fluff with a fork and serve.

What are the best ways to serve it?

Quinoa can be served on its own as a side dish, with a bit of butter or oil, salt and pepper, or other seasonings. It also makes a great breakfast dish mixed with dried fruit, cinnamon, milk, and maple syrup or honey. Paired with chili, stir-fries, beans or curries, quinoa is a healthy substitute for rice (it also makes a tasty pilaf). As a main course, use it to make meat-free burgers, mix it into stews or toss it into salads. Quinoa works as a baking grain as well, and makes for delicious and nutritious breads and muffins. Try a quinoa pilaf salad recipe, or serve a vegetable stir-fry over cooked quinoa instead of rice.

This quinoa salad recipe is surprisingly tasty and healthy! Whole grain quinoa cooks quicker than most grains and is an excellent source of protein with about 11 grams of protein per cup of cooked quinoa. Feel free to experiment by adding different veggies such as zucchini, corn or even kale.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes


  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups raw whole grain quinoa
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup lightly steamed broccoli florets
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

dash salt and pepper, to taste (sea salt tastes best)


Cook quinoa in vegetable broth until it fluffs up, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While quinoa is cooking, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic cloves and salt and pepper.

When quinoa is finished cooking, allow to cool slightly then, toss with vegetables and lemon juice mix, stirring to combine well. Add more salt and pepper to taste, and chill before serving.

Makes 6 servings of quinoa salad.

Nutritional information:
Calories Per Serving: 270, Total Fat: 10.5g, 16% RDA, Saturated Fat: 1.5g, 8% RDA
Cholesterol: 0mg, 0% RDA
Sodium: 518mg, 22% RDA
Total Carbohydrates: 34.5g, 11% RDA
Dietary Fiber: 4.4g, 18% RDA
Protein: 10.4g
Vitamin A 21%, Vitamin C 75%, Calcium 5%, Iron 15%


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